The Vancouver Giants From A Fan's Perspective

Vancouver Giants Hockey

Giants Find Twine Early

Giants Pound Royals

Vancouver 4 Victoria 2

I wasn’t able to listen to or see this one, so more box score interpretations. The Giants really do play better with the lead. I guess most teams do as well, but it’s more about confidence and getting on a roll for the Giants as opposed to some other squads who use their lead to shut down the other team. Get a lead or keep it close in Everett and you have a chance. Cough up a couple of early ones and you are bored to death for the rest of the game. On Saturday the Royals opened with three unanswered goals and in this one it was the Giants who notched three before the home team responded. All three of those Giants goals came even-strength in the first period.   Victoria used PP in the second to break Ryan Kubic’s shutout bid. The Giants responded in the third before coughing up a late period goal on another Royals PP. The Gs shut the door the rest of the way, got the win and go up 2-1 in the 4 game mini-series.

Alec Baer opened the scoring for the visitors just 35 seconds into the game, assisted by Chase Lang and Trevor Cox. Baer added another one just past the 5-minute mark, off of Tyler Benson and Lang.   Ben Thomas tallied his third of the season at 17:02 of the opening frame. Carter Popoff and Matt Barberis got the helpers on the play. Victoria got the only goal of the second. The Giants added some insurance late in the third when Jack Flaman scored his first goal as a Giant. Flaman was assisted by Dylan Plouffe and Josh Thrower.   Victoria scored a late PP marker to draw it closer, but could not climb back all the way.

Fight Night: Dmitry Osipov v. Alex Forsberg. Forsberg got the instigator as the two tangled late in the final minute of play.

The Giants out-shot the Royals 34-31. The Gs were 0 for 4 on the PP, while the Royals went 2 for 3 with their man-advantage opportunities. The two teams have a breather before taking on one another back at the Coliseum on Wednesday. Puck drops at the Rink on Renfrew at 7:00pm PST.

Three Stars

  1. Ryan Kubic
  2. Alec Baer
  3. Jack Walker

 

 

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Victoria Throws Giants to the Bears

Royals Toss Giants

Vancouver 1 Victoria 6

I wasn’t able to listen to or watch either of the tilts this weekend versus the Royals, so another interpretive box score rendition for my readers. The Royals took a checking to the head penalty 24 seconds into the game, so you can assume they were pumped up for their Teddy Bear Toss night.   Victoria opened the scoring 12:04 into the first, sending the bears flying over the glass and getting that aspect of the game out of the way. They added two more in the second before the Giants responded with their lone goal on the PP in the middle frame. Chase Lang found the back of the net, off of Tyler Benson and Ben Thomas in the final seconds of the second period. Ryan Kubic stayed on the bench at the start of the final frame after allowing 3 goals on 19 shots. Newest Giant Jake Morrissey took to the ice for the third period and coughed up 3 goals on 13 shots before all was said and done. Not the Giants night.

The game itself seemed to be a chippy affair with multiple fights and cheap penalties taken along the way. It seems the Royals were ready to bounce back after losing 4-1 to the Giants the night previous.

Fight Night: Josh Thrower v. Keith Anderson in the second period and Dakota Odgers v. Ralph Jarret early in third. Lots of roughing and misconduct calls down the stretch, which feels a lot more like game management than actual game calling to me.

The Giants out-shot the Royals 34-32 in this one and each team went 1 for 4 on the PP.

Game 2 of 4: back-to-back (to-back-to-back) games by the two teams in the books. Record 1-1. Next tilt Sunday the 13th in Victoria. Puck drops at 3:00pm PST.

Three Stars

  1. Jack Walter
  2. Griffen Outhouse
  3. Matthew Phillips

 


The Kubic Bounces Back

Giants Trump Royals

Vancouver 4 Victoria 1

I was happy to see Ryan Kubic get the start and for Molleken to state that he has the starter’s position for the foreseeable future (in the post-game interview), especially after acquiring an 18 yr old goalie from the Blades this week. It would have been an insult to Kubic to play the new guy in my mind, but I frankly wouldn’t have been surprised, as this franchise tends to be a young goalie graveyard and a mismanagement debacle with their younger players. It was also nice to see Kubic get his first win in the Dub after allowing a goal. He three previous wins were all shutouts. Kubic was very solid in this game, but his team was equally good at forcing the play outside and allowing Ryan to see the shots. A very good full team effort for this game and despite the awful Christmas Frankenstein sweaters and white hockey pants, the team looked good. It was also a good game for the Gs to be seen on Sportsnet. Their previous televised outings have left a sour impression.

The two teams played to a scoreless first. Ty Ronning opened the scoring in the second, assisted by Trevor Cox. Victoria used a late second period PP opportunity to tie the game up going into the third. Carter Popoff found the back of the net in third on the PP. While most of us in the stands were scratching our heads at seeing Johnny Wesley on the PP, he and Trevor Cox hooked up to find a lonely Popoff in the slot. The sniper made no mistake powering it past the Royals goal-keep. Alec Baer added to that lead off of a good cross-crease feed by Ben Thomas. Baer scored his second of the game on the PP, set-up by defensemen Matt Barberis and Thomas. Kubic was rock solid down low and had a quick glove and even when he got caught wandering, he didn’t panic and calmly recovered. I really hope they give this kid a serious chance to be ‘the guy’.

Team Notes: The Giants acquired 18 yr old Jake Morrissey from the Saskatoon Blades this week for a 2017, 7th round pick.   The move was necessary when it became apparent that Daniel Wapple would be out for the season after season ending hip surgery. Not to rub any salt in the wounds, but losing Wapple was probably one of the better things that have happened to the team development-wise. Had Wapple been healthy… Kubic would never have gotten the chance to become a better and possibly elite goalie in this league and would follow in the skates of the under-developed young goalies the Giants have wasted for several years now. Goalies, I might add, who have gone on to become linchpin netminders for their new teams. Radovan Bondra has once again joined the Slovakian squad for the World Juniors and he represents the only Giant player, playing in the tournament.

The Giants out shot the Royals 35-27. They went 2 for 3 on their PP chances, while the Royals were 1 for 3. A good all-around game by the team and even the fourth line did not look out of place. With Bondra at WJHC camp, Brendan Semchuk was moved up to the third line with Odgers and Holt. Popoff was moved to centre the top line of Cox and Ronning and the newly matched Smurf line was speedy and skilled, playing well versus the bigger Royals players.   The line of Benson, Lang and Baer are really gaining some traction and turning heads. The chemistry seemed pretty good and Benson is coming into his own after a sluggish start coming back from injury. Some good work on the back-end as well. Still a few holes, but the Giants were much better at shutting down the opportunistic game the Royals exemplify. I don’t recall the Gs allowing any clear-cut breakaways in the game and that is a step in the right direction.

Last night was game 1 of 4 in-a-row head-to-head match-ups against the Royals. By the time the two teams face each other back at the Coliseum on Wednesday they are either going to be exhausted or there is going to be some bad blood. The two squads play Saturday and Sunday across the water before returning for the aforementioned Wed tilt. Saturday will be the Royals Teddy Bear Toss Night, so the Victoria team will be motivated to have a strong bounce back game in front of their fans. I suspect Jake Morrissey might get his first start as a Giant. Puck drops in Victoria at 7pm PST.

Three Stars

  1. Alec Baer
  2. Trevor Cox
  3. Ryan Kubic

 

 


Silvertips Squelch Shutout Streak

Tips Topple Giants

Vancouver 1 Everett 3

Saw most of this on my live feed and I have to say that I forgot how much I hate watching Constantine hockey.  I also have to say I am shocked that Tips are one of the least penalized teams in the league as the sheer number of obstruction-style pick plays, impromptu roughing as well as slashing that wasn’t called caused lots of head shaking.  I personally felt the Tips got away with a ton of the same kinds of plays that have been called as infractions for a few years now to avoid this kind of obstructive interference hockey.  Anyway, the refs are not the reason we lost this game, but I find it interesting that some teams seem to be able to fly below the officials’ radar, while other teams are being pointedly targeted.

Earlier this season the Giants were getting the benefit of the doubt, official-wise.  I’m not sure if they were playing more responsibly or that they were just not in the zebra cross-hairs, but it was noticeable.  As I have said before (actually more along the lines of beating the proverbial horse that has already shuffled off its mortal coil), game management and the fallacy that this is the way to deal out punishment cuts the metaphorical, and at times literal, balls off of the game.  This particular game under the guise of “letting them play” allowed too many play turning infractions to occur and failed to identify the culprits in multiple situations.  I guess I am just getting tired of the inconsistency, team to team and game to game from a league and officiating perspective.  Okay moving on.

Ryan Kubic didn’t get a lot of help from his boys at maintaining his streak as two of the three goals against started with poor turnovers and a screened goalie.  The shutout breaker had Ben Thomas, laying on his belly punch the puck out to the slot right onto the stick of a Tip.  He then stood up, attempted to block the shot, missed and hampered his goalie’s ability to make the save.  The second goal against came off of a point shot through traffic, where Kubic had little chance to see the puck before it was behind him.  The Giants got one of those back on the PP, early in the third, but finally coughed up a late one when they were not able to clear a rebound from the front of the net.  The Tips held on for the win.

The Silvertips scored one goal in each period.  Kubic’s shutout streak was ended just north of 205 minutes, which I believe gives him the franchise record.  Tips scored at 9:57 of the first period, when Kubic was screened after a scrambled give-away.  They added another one at 7:44 of the second.  The Giants responded by cashing in a carry-over PP at the top of the third.  Tyler Benson banked the puck off of the back of the Silvertip netminder and into the net.  The play appeared to be deliberate.  Trevor Cox and Matt Barberis had the assists.  Failing to clear the puck from their zone, the Giants allowed a heart-breaking late goal as they were ramping up to get the tying marker.  The Silvertips were actively playing Constantine hockey for most of the third, shutting down the neutral zone and running interference in the slot.  They were also good at getting on the puck carrier early and not giving the Giants time and space to move the puck.

The Giants out-shot the Tips 22-21.  Neither team got a ton of rubber on the net, but both goalies were pretty good when they had to be.  The Silvertip netminder was solid and at times excellent (stooping a couple of clean breakaways), but there was still little room to move in the Everett end of the ice and good scoring chances were limited.  The Giants went 1 for 3, while the Tips were 0 for 2 with the man-advantage.  It was a good effort by the Giants, but the Silvertips were quicker to loose pucks and rarely gave the Gs clean access to the front of the net.  After watching the last couple of games where the Giants had the momentum and were able to make plays, it was eye-opening to watch how easily a better skilled team (and one not shy to play shutdown hockey), could neutralize the Giants strengths.  I saw a lot of Ronning early in the game, but he was less noticeable until sometime in the third.  I think that was more he being unable to make the dangles and moves he has been the past few games, than him sleepwalking through shifts.  This is a small example of how frustrating playing against this kind of disciplined hockey team, when you are struggling to find your groove.

No rest for the boys as they come back home for an early evening game at the Coliseum versus the tenacious Prince George Cougars.  The Giants are playing their third game in three nights and could be a tired bunch for this tilt.  They need to get on the Cats early and get a buffer on the scoresheet.  Let’s see if Kubic can bounce back.  15 yr old AP David Tendeck might see his first start as a Giant, but I suspect Molleken will go with Kubic.  Game time 5pm PST.

Three Stars

  1. Mackenzie Dwyer
  2. Carter Hart
  3. Matt Fonteyne

The Force is Strong with Young Kubic

Giants Storm Ice

Vancouver 4 Kootenay 0

197mins 3 seconds is Ryan Kubic’s current shutout streak.  Only three wins on the season and all of them are shutouts.  One wonders if he can run the table.  He looked good last night and was seeing the puck very well as the boys skated around in their “Stormtrooper” sweaters, white pants and white socks.  I have to admit they were not as ugly as I originally thought, but they did show every stain a player could acquire from a dirty bench.  The game itself had energy and if the team gained a few more bums in seats, the Star Wars promo did not exactly pack ‘em in.  Kubic was good and a bit lucky, as you have to be to continue this kind of a streak.  The Ice did not really bring much pressure until the Giants backed off a bit in the second before scoring their fourth goal.  May the fourth goal be with you.  The Gs did have energy and focus in the first period and scored some nice goals off of some even better set-up plays.  The boys helped their goalie hang on for the goose-egg when the Ice brought some pressure and more shots in the third.

Mid-first on the PP, Ty Ronning found the back of the net off of a rocket of a cross-crease pass by Carter Popoff.  Radovan Bondra got the other helper.  Chase Lang added to that lead about 5 minutes later, as he was set-up Tyler Benson and Trevor Cox.  Late in the period, some hustle by Dakota Odgers got the puck out to Bondra cutting down the slot.  The Slovakian made no mistake wiring it top shelf to give his team a 3-goal lead heading into first intermission.  Alec Baer found the net in the second cutting across the crease.  The goal came at time when it felt like the Giants were sitting back a bit and the Ice beginning to move the puck better than they had previously in the game.  The marker helped quell some of that push-back surge.  Benson and Lang got the assists.

New Guys: I liked what I saw from Owen Hardy who seems to have some size and potential for a 16 yr old we pulled up from Junior.  The coach really liked Jack Flaman’s effort and his sacrifice taking a penalty to save a goal and stop his goalie from bumping his impressive streak.  Other than that I found him to be more average than not.  Carter Cochrane has done something to his shoulder, which could put him out for the rest of the season.  The poor kid played a grand total of seven seconds as a Giant before being injured.

Fight Night: Josh Thrower v. Mario Grman.  I did not see what started it.  It was quick fight.

The Giants outshot the struggling Ice 36-25.  The hometown boys went 1 for 5 on the PP, while holding the Ice to 0 for 6.  Despite scoring only one out of 5 on the man-advantage, the PP itself looked dangerous.  The Giants kept pressure in the zone and were passing quickly and sharply.

It was nice to see a good hungry game from Josh Thrower, especially after his recent benching for breaking team rules.  Dawson Holt looked good playing with Ronning and Cox and Benson found himself matched with Lang and Baer.  Popoff has been shifted to third line centre, plus special teams play and considering he is one of our best face-off guys and a very solid two-way forward it seems to fit with his game.  I do think we sacrifice a bit of pure offense playing him there though, but we are winning right now so don’t change anything.  Bondra and Odgers were playing with Popoff.  Dmitry Osipov paid the price, locking down his zone.  The kid had more than a few bruises by the end of this one and has been regularly sacrificing his body as of late.   Brennan Menell also had a good ranging game with some smart pinches.  I really don’t think the new bodies have made that much difference, but at least the boys don’t seem to be suffering the same crisis of confidence they were feeling earlier.  That is not until they get scored upon.

Kubic’s streak doesn’t get any easier as the Giants face the Silvertips in Everett on Saturday.  Everett is a dangerous skilled team who play more of a complete game than their recent opponents (with the possible exception of Portland).  Kubic and the team will need to be at their best and lady luck will have to continue to be present, just to get the win let alone extend the streak.  The Giants next home game will be versus the Cougars on Sunday.  The puck drops in Everett on Saturday night at 7:05pm PST.

Three Stars* ( *reverse the order in the box score, as Bill Wilms said there was a misinterpretation of his notes and third should be first and vice versa.) I am putting in the original intended order.

  1. Ryan Kubic
  2. Chase Lang
  3. Tyler Benson

Ronning’s Hat Trick Tangles Tigers

Giants Blank Tigers

Vancouver 6 Medicine Hat 0

I was working so I did not see this one live and only listened to bits of the game, but it feels like the boys got a confidence leap from their win in Portland. Ryan Kubic has his second win and his second shut out in as many games as well as in his burgeoning career in the Dub. It was a good effort with hard work and a bit of luck.   Ty Ronning tallied his second hat-trick of the season (a natural hat trick at that), Trevor Cox was busy trying to set-up guys and succeeded more often than not in this one. The special teams scored on the PP and on the PK.   Tyler Benson was also playing well in his set-up role. A dominant win on Shaw in front of 3300 odd fans. There was also evidence that the boys stood up for themselves and one another.   That is always a good trend moving forward.

The Giants opened the scoring late in the first (with 34 seconds left in the period). Chase Lang scored his second as a Giant, burying a nice feed from Tyler Benson. In the second we had Dylan Plouffe scoring his first of the season with the lone assist going to Radovan Bondra. Not a common stat you see in the box score. Depth scoring. Check. Later in the middle frame Ty Ronning found the back of the net off of a great feed from Trevor Cox. Things got chippy in the third and the Giants made the Tigers pay. Ronning found twine on the PP, assisted by Cox and Benson. Later, Ronning chipped it in at the side of the net off of Matt Barberis and Brennan Menell. Cox salted away the game SH’d in the last minutes, when Chase Lang found him with a good outlet pass. Kubic held on for the shutout and the win, turning aside all 33 shots sent his way. The Giants needed this kind of a dominant performance and so did their fans.   Let’s hope they can keep the momentum going on Friday and not get caught up in the all the Star Wars hoopla and forget about the game.

Can’t Tell The Players Without A Program: Bonner made a few moves. Acquiring Johnny Wesley from the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a bag of pucks (erm … 8th round pick). Signed ’99 born Owen Hardy to a standard contract. Hardy, was drafted by the Giants in the second round of the Bantam draft (42nd overall). Bonner also brought in free-agent 18 yr old Jack Flaman who was producing points with his Saskatchewan Junior club, but had one point in 34 games with the Winterhawks last season. The Giants also activated 19 yr old defenseman Carter Cochrane, who had 3 points in 9 games with the Americans last season and 1 point in 31 games and was a –8 with the Silvertips in the same season. Cochrane left this game with an undisclosed injury, but it appeared he injured his shoulder on a play and did not return.

Team Notes: Scott Bonner shuffled the deck and rolled the dice (mixing his metaphors along the way) acquiring and signing players that other teams in the Dub deemed unworthy of their attention. Not one in the bunch has shown solid success at this level, but Scott apparently believes giving them a second chance with a broken franchise is the way to go. A team always gets a lift from new blood entering the dressing room, but a few games down the road it will probably even out.   The Tigers came into this game with a similar record to ours, so before anyone (esp the Giants brass behind the scenes) starts planning a Memorial Cup parade route they should look at what they really have. We did not give up much of anything to acquire the bodies, but then we also did not get much to write home about. This, in my mind, was a desperate act to do something, anything, as opposed to actually improving the team. For this game, however, it worked out. New energy. Kubic still riding the crest of the Portland game and on a roll and then a dash of change for change sakes just to shake things up a bit. I do like that we acquired some younger players as well as some passed over veterans. Who knows? Maybe Bonner will luck out with one or two of the new guys, but looking at the players past stats I feel we are just adding more middling chaff to a depleted and struggling line-up.

The Giants were out-shot 33-28. The hometown boys went 2 for 6 on the PP and scored a late short-handed goal to rub salt in the wound.   The Tigers were held to 0 for 3.   A hell of a game against a middling opponent, but not exactly what I would call reality. The Giants still need to show they have the ability to bounce back after being down and are able to hold onto a lead without their goalie putting up goose-eggs, but it is a good start and a decent reward for the fans who have had to watch some pretty bad hockey this season.

My fear if we get on a roll is that the same delusion will persist, that has been the bane of this team for several years now; the fantasy that we are anything but middling at best. I’d say we should be sellers, but other than Benson we really don’t have huge assets to deal. We do have a couple of 20s we should consider moving if we can get better assets from a team looking for an expensive rental player, but other than that we should be looking to shore up our depth and be willing to give our young guys every chance to grow and develop. That includes, most importantly in my mind, between the pipes.   Kubic needs to continue to get more than just regular starts when Wapple returns and to be honest I would deal Wapple for a younger back-up ‘tender, go with Ryan and let the chips fall where they may. We will be a better team next year if we think more about progress than W’s. Sadly that just isn’t the way this ownership/management thinks.

The Giants are doing a Star Wars night on Friday December 4th, wearing sweaters than are supposed to look like stormtroopers, but look nothing like them (it’s like a droid, stormtrooper, vader conceptual mishmash by someone who has never seen the movies).   It’s a big promo that will probably get more bums into seats, but is in my mind truly bogus in every way. The uniform design is kind of laughable (see above) and the concept reeks of desperation. The execution will undoubtedly be sub-par – as it often is   – and it is past time for the team to put their energy where it belongs and to stop with the marketing gimics.   The puck drops on Friday at 7:30pm PST.   The Farce Awakens.

Three Stars

  1. Ty Ronning
  2. Trevor Cox
  3. Ryan Kubic

 

 


Ryan Kubic: 1st Dub Win, 1st Dub Shutout

Giants Blank Winterhawks

Vancouver 2 Portland 0

It was Ryan Kubic’s first WHL win and his first WHL shutout. I chose a good game to break the seal on my WHL-Live away game broadcast included as part of my season ticket package. It was also the first away game I have watched the Giants play and they looked a lot better than they have looked at home. There was forecheck and backcheck, hustle and some intensity. Maybe if they played that way at home for the full sixty we might get a few entertaining tilts. There was also hitting, which is something they have not done consistently at home either. It was also good seeing Benson involved at both ends of the ice and on the scoresheet. Ty Ronning and Trevor Cox had some hustle tonight as well.

The teams played to a scoreless draw after one. Chase Lang found the back of the net in the second; off of a nice Tyler Benson feed.   The Winterhawks had some good pushback later in the middle frame, but Kubic held them off the scoresheet. A puck got past the Giants netminder, but it was deemed kicked-in (and appeared so on the replay I saw) and waived off after a review. Benson found the back of the net off of a big Alec Baer shot rebounding off of the Portland goalie’s pad and out to the open side. Benson made no mistake burying the puck and giving his team a bit of insurance. Matt Barberis had the other assist. Kubic held on for the shutout, despite a late PP chance for the Winterhawks. So now he knows what he needs to do to get his team the win, just not let in any goals. Pretty simple, eh? I am of course being facetious, but it would be nice to see the young ‘tender find some confidence out of this game and possibly feel more comfortable stealing some games as the season moves on.

No fisticuffs in this one and few penalty calls as it felt like the refs were letting them play.   There was good effort up and down the line-up and the Gs were solid in their own end of the ice, keeping shots to the outside for the majority of the game. When there were holes, Kubic was solid. The Portland squad did have a couple of their better players out with injury so that helped the Gs a bit, but really it was a good complete effort, with a bit of luck and a strong work ethic. Not bad for game three in four nights.

The Giants out-shot Portland 38-34. Both squads went 0 for 3 on the PP. Good to finally get a win that was not a desperate come from behind, or one requiring huge effort over a short period. The Gs played the whole game for one of the first times since the beginning of the season, when they played a similarly intense game out of the gate for a couple of weeks. I suspect this is just one of those games and that bad habits will creep back in, but it should be something to build on, at the very least. I liked seeing effort from every line as well. Adin Hill for Portland had to be really sharp a few times, or this could have been a bigger win for the boys. Let’s hope they are tired of losing and possibly ready to turn their game around before the break. My only concern is that if they go on a positive run, the Giants braintrust will delude themselves into believing that the Giants are a contender.

The Giants have a few days off before their home game on Wednesday versus the Medicine Hat Tigers.   The puck drops at the Coliseum at 7pm PST.

Three Stars

  1. Ryan Kubic
  2. Tyler Benson
  3. Caleb Jones (I would have chosen Adin Hill)